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Votes

Editorial: Proof Every Vote Matters

Elections have consequences, including very close races.

Tuesday morning, a full week after an Election Day that included races that were more suspenseful than anticipated (and also many races that were foregone conclusions), we are probably more than a month away from certifying the winner of the Virginia Attorney General race.

At press time, the State Board of Elections reported, unofficially, that Mark Herring (D) had 1,103,610 votes with 49.89 percent of the vote; Mark Obenshain (R) had 1,103,493 votes with 49.88 percent of the vote. The 5,152 write-in votes are huge in a race that at one point had Obenshain ahead by 15 votes.

The process of canvassing or verifying the vote has been revealing, including a malfunctioning voting machine that had more than 2,000 votes uncounted in Fairfax County, a voting machine in Richmond that hadn’t been counted at all and many smaller errors. Human error and computer error are to be expected.

It will make a difference which man is elected as Attorney General. The current Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, demonstrated the influence that office can exert on many fronts, from academic freedom and scrutiny to the challenge of health care reform to implementation of environmental regulations to investigations of the household staff of the Governor’s mansion.

Del. Tom Rust (R) won reelection by just 57 votes, with 50.1 percent of the vote over Jennifer Boysko with 49.74 percent. Del. Barbara Comstock (R) won reelection with 50.64 percent of the vote over Kathleen Murphy (D) who received 49.19 percent, a margin of less than 500 votes. All results are still unofficial.

Consider another close race, in November 2007: then state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli (R-37) won re-election by less than one-half of a percentage point, with an edge of just 92 votes out of 37,185 ballots cast, beating Democrat Janet Oleszek. Approximately 32 percent of registered voters in the 37th District cast ballots at the polls in that election.

Retiring Del. Jim Scott was elected in 1991 with a margin of a single vote.

Just a few of many examples that prove that every vote really does matter.